Below is the July 18, 2018 article written and published by Dennis Domraski on his blog “APD Reports” followed by commentary and other blog articles.
For a number of years, Dennis was a reporter the Albuquerque Tribune and later a column writer for the “Albuquerque Free Press” where he covered city hall and APD and he is one of the most knowledgeable reporters in Albuquerque when it comes to APD.
July 18, 2018 ABQ REPORTS: “Old APD” Is Alive And Well”
BY Dennis Domrzalski
“Both Mayor Tim Keller and Police Chief Mike Geier have publicly denounced what they call the “Old APD.” And when they refer to the “Old APD” they mean a police department that lies to the public, that rewards and covers up for favorites, no matter how serious their infractions, and punishes so-called enemies; a department that never holds its own wrongdoers accountable; a department that frames innocent people; and a department that hunkers down and tries desperately to keep the public from knowing what is really going on inside of its dark, dank bunker of paranoia, secrecy and contempt for the public.
Both Keller and Geier have publicly vowed to destroy the Old APD and its culture of secrecy, misconduct, favoritism and disservice to the community.
Their statements have made for good soundbites and have brought some hope to the community, and to the hundreds of honest APD officers who are sickened by how deep the department has sunk into the foul slime of incompetence, lies, coverups, secrecy and favoritism.
But the events of the past few months have shown that rather than draining the APD swamp, Keller and Geier are either being swallowed by the Old APD’s culture, or are actually embracing it.
What else can you conclude when you look at the case of Jennifer Bell Garcia, who as commander of APD’s Internal Affairs unit, was investigated for wrongdoing earlier this year and quietly transferred to APD’s Traffic Unit.
APD won’t say what Garcia, who makes $95,000 a year, was being investigated for, even though that is public information. There are rumors about why the investigation was launched, and they are serious allegations. And there are rumors that Garcia has been suspended and that her suspension has already begun.
But APD won’t confirm or deny any of those rumors, which I have asked them about in writing.
If the rumors about the allegations are true, and if the charges against Garica have been sustained, it would cause any honest cop, and any moderately-informed lay person to ask, “Why hasn’t she been fired, or at least demoted?”
Well, here are some possible answers.
Geier promoted Jennifer Garcia to deputy chief/commander on Feb. 17. Jennifer Garcia is married to Deputy Chief Eric Garcia, a command staff holdover from the Old APD that was headed by the incompetent Gorden Eden.
Maybe Eric Garcia, who headed up APD’s incompetent Investigations Bureau for years – a bureau that botched the Victoria Martnes murder case and then lied about it, and that let two innocent young men rot in jail for early a year for a murder they didn’t commit – has some special influence with Keller and Geier and won’t let his wife be fired.
Maybe it’s the Old APD’s Good ol’ Boy and Gal culture that is still thriving at APD? Remember, you just don’t criticize or dump on one of your own, especially when they’re part of the exclusive and high and mighty command staff club.
Many former and current cops have asked why Eric Garcia hasn’t yet been fired, especially since he was part of the Old APD’s command staff that spent four years obstructing APD’s reform settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. Remember, the independent monitor in the reform case has consistently said that APD was in “deliberate noncompliance” with the settlement agreement and that the command staff was directly responsible for that deliberate noncompliance.
Again, APD isn’t saying much about the Jennifer Garcia case, which means that like the Old APD, it is stonewalling the public on a matter of great public importance: a police commander accused of wrongdoing.
That sounds like the Old APD, whose practice was to hold the media and the public in contempt.
And then there was Geier’s public response earlier this year the now infamous 7-year-old girl’s bloody underwear case. The public, and lots of retired cops were stunned and outraged that an APD officer who was called out to the case of the girl, and told by her teacher that she had found blood on the girl’s underwear, didn’t even suspect a crime might have been committed and didn’t tag the garment into evidence for possible use in a criminal investigation.
Geier stood by his officer and said the cop was correct to not take the underwear as evidence. It was the Old APD in action: Support your own, no matter how incompetent or wrong they might be, dive into the bunker, pull the doors shut and ignore the public and the news media.
A few weeks later Geier reversed course and said that he was wrong about the case, but that it wasn’t his fault because he had been misled by someone in the department. Most people equate being misled as being lied to.
So what did Geier do to the person or persons who lied to him, the person who lied to the chief of police?
So far, nothing. Oh, he launched an IA investigation, which he said would take 90 days to complete. Does it really take 90 days to figure out who gave you bad and incorrect information and to fire them?
Well, at the New APD, which looks a lot like the Old APD, it does. And that could be by design. At the Old APD the practice was to ignore bad things, launch phony investigations and hope that the public would forget about them.
Let’s just hope that Keller and Geier weren’t lying to us about wanting to get rid of the Old APD. Right now, it’s beginning to look like they did.
When candidate Keller was running for Mayor, he promised sweeping changes with APD, a national search for a new APD Chief and a return to Community based policing.
During the last 8 months of Mayor Tim Keller’s term, APD has not seen dramatic management changes but a reliance on past management of the department and past practices, including those outlined in the ABQ Report.
The current Deputy Chiefs are not outsiders at all but have been with APD for years.
The Deputy Chiefs of Police appointed by Mayor Keller include Harold Medina who retired from APD as commander after serving 20 years, Rogelio Banez who was the area commander in southwest Albuquerque, and Eric Garcia who was a Deputy Chief under APD Chief Gordon Eden.
The command staff under Chief Geier do not reflect a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.
All the previous commanders under the previous administration have been shuffled around with a few retiring, with no firm commitment that they will be kept as commanders.
It was the past APD management practices that resulted in the “culture of aggression” found by the Department of Justice that lead to the federal consent decree after 18 police officer involved shootings and the findings of excessive use of force and deadly force by APD.
APD needs a clean sweep in management and philosophy to remove anyone who may have assisted, contributed or who did not stop the culture of aggression found by the Department of Justice and who have resisted the reform process during the last 3 years of the consent decree.
Appointing a new interim police chief who is a retired APD commander and former Rio Rancho Police Chief understandably was necessary given the two-week time frame Mayor Keller had from his election to his swearing in on December 1, 2017.
By all accounts, Chief Geier has done a good job of settling the department down and has publicly committed to the DOJ reforms.
However, making Interim Chief Geier permanent is evidence nothing is going to change with APD management.
The “new” command staff is a reflection of APD’s past and all have been with APD for some time.
The current command staff are not a new generation of police officer fully committed and trained in constitutional policing.
Mayor Keller did say one encouraging thing when he made the announcement making Chief Geier permanent:
“The search process showed us that there are other strong candidates out there who might be able to help build the leadership bench and bring fresh perspectives to APD. … We are continuing to talk to talented professionals to see if others will be a good fit to join the team.”
Hope springs eternal that Keller, and for that matter Chief Geier, are truly committed to finding and hiring outside management to rebuild APD and end the bunker mentality of the Department.
For other blog articles and commentary see: